The latest 42-page edition of Carmarthenshire News has just arrived at Tŷ Cneifiwr, with jolly Christmas messages on the front page. Rather less jolly is Kevin Madge, our council leader, on page 2 warning of drastic cutbacks and belt tightening, and he urges us to turn to pages 6 and 7 of the council rag to read about where some of these cuts may fall.
The list is by no means as extensive as the ideas presented to attendees at the now famous Ffwrnes Farce, but most of the big ticket items are there, together with an invitation to readers to have their say.
This is rather more honest than some previous "consultation exercises" which presented residents with a set of fixed options. At least this time people can write in with suggestions such as scrapping the Carmarthenshire News, making do without a chief executive, or cutting back on the number of assistant and deputy chief executives. Perhaps a ban on extremely expensive litigation by the chief executive might be up your street, or perhaps you think the council should stop funnelling money into fringe evangelical churches and be slightly less generous towards the Scarlets at a time when it is planning to cut its support for the sports facilities used by children and ordinary members of the public.
Whether any of these suggestions would be acted upon is another matter.
Honesty and openness have their limits, of course, and so the council paper talks in very vague terms about saving £1.7 million on residential care for the elderly, without specifying which homes it might close.
It also says that it could save £1.5 million a year by transferring all long-term home care for the elderly to "independent" (i.e. private sector) providers, adding that "there will be no impact on service users".
Clearly all the recent scandals about the quality of care provided by some private sector providers have escaped the council's notice, including what several prominent charities have described as the disgrace of 15-minute care visits.
"It's time to scrap welsh council rags"
It's also time to scrap Chief Executives and their unnecessary Deputies. All is needed are Heads of Departments. A lot of money could be saved and put into services that are much needed by taxpayers.
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